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General & Collecting News
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What did shifters do in a mine and did all mines have them?


Does anyone know what Shifters did in the mines and were they present in all collieries?I know the term was used in the Durham coalfield and possibly South wales, but have not come across it elsewhere.Were they distinct from the Hewers in that they did not work at the coalface?

Thanks for any info


Re: What did shifters do in a mine and did all mines have them?

it was slang for a adjustable spanner when i worked at pit.

Re: What did shifters do in a mine and did all mines have them?

Hi Ron,

As you've probably already realised, this site seems to attract mainly people squabbling among themselves about old pit checks they're selling on eBay.

To the best of my (limited, although I'm an ex-miner) knowledge. a "shifter" was someone employed on general underground work, especially roadway and rail maintenance, who was paid by the shift, ather than per ton or yard of coal like face workers. The term "dataller" or "on-cost worker appears to have been interchangeable with it.

Re. your previous enquiries, the term "coal agent" could have either referred to either a wholesale coalmerchant, or more commonly someone who, pre-nationalisation, acted as an agent for the coal-owner (i.e. the landowner) in their dealings with the companies who actually worked the coal.

A "coal porter" was exactly that - they unloaded colliers - coal boats at coastal and (sometimes surprisingly far) inland ports.

If you'd like to visit a genuine mining site can I suggest you try - it's not full of little eBayers screaming obscenities at each other.